Posts Tagged ‘jackson pollock’

Culture Vulture: Christmas Eve at the Whitney Museum

December 24, 2020

A dreary overcast Christmas Eve turned out to be a perfect day for a stroll through the Whitney Museum (first time there since the onset of the pandemic). We started on the top floor with Working Together: The Photographers of the Kamoinge Workshop, a community new to me of photographers who chronicled civil rights activism, culture heroes, and everyday black life in the ’60s and ’70s — wonderful shot of Sun Ra.

Next: Making Knowing: Craft in Art, 1950–2019, whose high point is Liza Lou’s beaded Kitchen, but I also loved Jordan Nassar’s mesmerizing A Lost Key (above) and Jeffrey Gibson’s Birds of a Feather (below).

We poked our heads into Cauleen Smith: Mutualities and watched some of her film Sojourner in which a group of sisters in dazzling outfits take in a recorded lecture on black feminism.

The main attraction at the Whitney these days, though, is Vida Americana: Mexican Muralists Remake American Art, 1925–1945, which runs through January 31. The show focuses on three artists — Diego Rivera, David Alfaro Siqueiros, and José Clemente Orozco — and the impact they had on their contemporaries. I’ve always loved Siqueiros’s paintings, which seem psychedelic to me, and I made a pilgrimage to the house in Guanajuato where Rivera lived with Frida Kahlo for a time (it’s now a museum).

I was surprised and fascinated to see a bunch of figurative (pre-drip) paintings by Jackson Pollock directly influenced by Siqueiros’ dreamy shellacked surfaces (Landscape with Steer, above) and Orozco’s death-obsessed iconography (the two images below, both called Untitled (Figure Composition).

Also intriguing to learn that Philip Guston got his start studying with Siqueiros in Los Angeles and absorbing his politically charged mural work, as in this sectional model of a piece for the University of Michoacán.

And, as dessert, Kahlo’s beautiful, tender, funny self-portrait Me and My Parrots.

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